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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Latitude Festival 2010: Sunday Evening Quidams Review

A review of a magical Sunday evening spent watching Quidams perform at, and around, The Waterfront Stage.

Written by Sophie Parker and Daniel Sims

Quidams at Latitude Festival 2010
All photography by Sophie Parker and Daniel Sims

After what had been a magical weekend we decided to spend our final night of Latitude simply drifting through the festival. With no agenda we found ourselves sitting atop the large books outside the Literary Stage- donuts in one hand and chocolate dip held precariously in the other. Happily munching away with Vampire Weekend echoing in the background, it seemed a perfect end to the weekend.

Quidams at Latitude Festival 2010
With the masses up at the Obelisk Arena, the crowds had thinned out to the point where the festival began to resemble its Mean Fiddler days. The dust from the day had finally settled and the sun was just a whisper of warmth in the evening air.

As we got up and turned to head for Cabaret Stage we caught sight of a peculiar glow of light. Bobbing and shimmying, it was surrounded by a small gathering of people. As the light dispersed, four towering bubble-like creatures flickered into view, their immense height and width contrasting with their feather-light appearance.

Quidams at Latitude 2010. Illustration by Sophie Parker and Daniel Sims
Quidams by Sophie Parker and Daniel Sims

Whilst Latitude is notorious for having all kinds of ephemeral creatures wandering through the festival both day and night, there was definitely something more surreal about these serene giants. Gently they tip-toed on stilts away from the bright lights of the festival into the secret darkness of the trees and, along with a growing crowd of enchanted people of all ages, we followed them Pied Piper-like into the darkness.

Unknown to us at the time it was in fact Quidams- a French street theatre company known for, amongst other things, inflatable self illuminating costumes and characters reminiscent of Tim Burton (before Disney devoured him, obviously). At the time, however, who they were and where they had come from didn’t seem important. It was far more exciting to simply engage with the moment.

Quidams at Latitude Festival 2010
Clumsy yet graceful, with only a wordless language of slow gestures and hypnotic light we were lead to the Waterfront stage. They shuffled tentatively onto the unlit platform and there was a simultaneous jaw-dropping as the four figures proceeded to creep silently (and unaided) across the submerged catwalk giving the appearance of walking on water.

What had been a small gathering was now a swarming crowd blocking the bridge and congregating on both sides of the lake. As if out of a Studio Ghibli film, we watched as the four illuminated characters arrived on the other side of the bank and surrounded a covered luminous globe. Performing a kind of magic to the strange and dramatic music, the orb began to rhythmically float and descend, each time getting a little higher. Finally it rose high above our heads shedding it’s gossamer-thin covering and blooming into a huge and glowing full-moon.

Quidams at Latitude Festival 2010
As the four characters deflated and drifted off into the night, the moon signaled the perfect end to an unbelievable weekend.

It was definitely not the biggest act, but for the brief time it lasted, the festival site was transformed into a Moomin-esque world caught somewhere between fiction and reality. Quite simply, it was Latitude at its best.

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